Cars have become an integral part of life: we depend on them for our daily commutes, to run errands, to transport our children, to hit the road for an adventure. But they also pose significant risk. There are over 6 million accidents each year in the US, half resulting in injury. More than 90 people die each day. In Florida alone, there are nearly 402,000 car accidents per year, resulting in almost a quarter of a million injuries and over 3000 deaths. What are common causes of car accidents – and what can you do to avoid becoming a statistic?
Leading Cause of Traffic Collisions
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the leading cause of traffic collisions in the US is – by a large margin – driver error. This encompasses a wide variety of behaviors that lead to accidents, such as distracted driving. A quarter (25%) of all crashes involve cell phone use (talking or texting).
A lot of driver error comes down to the mistaken belief that we can mult-itask or micro-task. In reality, our brains can only handle one task at a time. We think we’re multi-tasking because we switch back and forth quickly. But we can’t process all of the information and simulation optimally, so our brains pick and choose. This is why we think we can text and drive, when in fact, our brains are focusing on the phone – and not the road. It only takes seconds for an accident to occur.
Other types of driver error include:
- Alcohol. According to the NHTSA, alcohol is a factor in over 40% of all car crash deaths. It impairs the vision, decision-making, and reaction time.
- Fatigue. Driving while tired has a similar effect as alcohol. Reaction times, especially, are affected, and, of course, there is the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Speed. This is the leading cause of traffic collisions and car accidents among young drivers. Teens are more likely to speed, and male teens are more likely to speed than female teens. They don’t have the experience to handle high speed maneuvers or react quickly enough to avoid danger.
Other Common Causes of Car Accidents
When you drive, you accept the risks – while taking steps to mitigate them. There are some situations in which reasons other than drive error contribute to a collision. These include:
- Road Conditions. When roadways are not maintained properly, it can be difficult to avoid hazards or maintain adequate traction.
- Mechanical Failure. Faulty brakes or a malfunctioning airbag, for example, can cause serious injury.
- Weather. Rain, storms, fog, and other conditions impede visibility and can make it difficult to maintain adequate traction.
Now, it should be noted that road conditions, mechanical failure, and weather can become situations of driver error. For example, if you don’t maintain your brakes, you put yourself – and others on the road – at risk if you cannot stop in time to avoid a hazard. It’s your responsibility to maintain your car properly.
As well, when the weather outside is frightful or the road is poorly maintained, you must drive for the conditions. Going the speed limit when you can’t see twenty feet in front of you is going to fast for conditions. If you must go out in poor weather, exercise extra precaution.
What else can you do to avoid a car accident, or if that is not possible, reduce the chances you will be hurt or killed?
- Follow the speed limit.
- Drive for the road and weather conditions.
- Maintain your vehicle.
- Wear your seatbelt. This greatly reduces the risk of serious injury and death.
- Do not drink and drive or use drugs and drive.
- Do not use your cellphone while driving.
- Do not drive when you are fatigued.
- Make sure you are wearing your corrective lenses, if you require them.
- Obey traffic signals and laws.
If you have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence, recklessness, or carelessness of another driver, please contact the LaBovick Law Group. We have decades of experience in personal injury law and a track record of fighting successfully for our clients’ rights. Stay safe out there.